October 26, 2020

Brac to report green iguanas

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800px-Green_iguana_on_branchResidents on Cayman Brac are being asked to report all sightings of green iguanas to the Department of Environment (DoE) and keep track of their whereabouts until an official arrives. The invasive green iguanas spread very quickly. They pose a threat to the indigenous population of rock iguanas and lizards, as well as other wildlife. The green iguana is now prolific on Grand Cayman and the DoE is hoping to prevent the same problem on the Brac.

“Green iguanas are very invasive and pose a serious threat to the island’s wildlife because of their size, feeding habits, and high reproduction rates,” said DoE Research Officer, Jessica Harvey. “It is therefore extremely important to stop the growth of the green iguana population in Cayman Brac.”

When a sighting occurs, Brac residents are advised to contact the local DoE officers, Erbin Tibbetts or Robert Walton immediately. Call 926-0136 or 926-2342 or email [email protected] or [email protected] Where possible, the person reporting the sighting should try to keep sight of the iguana until a DoE officer arrives. If both DoE officers are unavailable, people are instead asked to contact Bonnie Scott Edwards on the Iguana Hotline at 917-7744. (Right: green iguana hatchling)

Anyone who spots a green iguana is also asked to record the description of the location and time of the sighting, the iguana’s approximate size, and whether or not it has a bead tag on its neck.

The DoE said that green iguanas should not to be confused with green anoles, or rock iguanas. Anoles are bright green and significantly smaller than iguanas, with a long, narrow snout. Also, they do not have spines on their crest, or a large, single-cheek scale.

Rock iguanas vary in colour between grey and brown and have different types of shading. They have black feet and smaller, more evenly spaced spines along their crest than the green iguana. They also do not have a single-cheek scale.

Green iguanas are easy to identify by the heavy black banding on their tails, as well as their large, single-cheek scale, and long, straggly crest spines.

Despite their name, Green Iguanas can come in different colours. They can appear bluish in colour with bold blue markings. A Green Iguana’s colour may range from green to lavender, black, and even pink. Some are red and some appear orange. Juvenile Green Iguanas can be bright blue as babies, however they lose this colour as they get older.

The row of spines along their backs and along their tails helps to protect them from predators. Their whip-like tails can be used to deliver painful strikes and like many other lizards, when grabbed by the tail, the iguana can allow it to break, so it can escape and eventually regenerate a new one. In addition, iguanas have well developed dewlaps which helps regulate their body temperature. This dewlap is used in courtships and territorial displays.

Green Iguanas are oviparous with females laying clutches of 20 to 71 eggs once per year during a synchronized nesting period.

Anyone who is uncertain as to what species he or she has spotted should send a photo via phone to [email protected] or [email protected]

For more information, please contact the DoE at [email protected] or call 949-8469.

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